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coping skills for grief and loss

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Grief and Loss

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Grief and Loss 2560 1707 se_admin

Grief and loss are a part of every person’s life. At some point, we will lose a pet, or a friend, or a loved one. And while it is natural and normal, that does not make it any easier when it happens. 

Grief is especially challenging for young people. They are experiencing loss for the first time, and with no previous experience of dealing with it, they may not know what to do. The sadness can feel overwhelming and they fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

Common Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms 

While each person deals with grief differently, there are some common coping mechanisms that present themselves during loss. Unhealthy coping mechanisms may include: 

  • Denial- refusing to acknowledge their loss or grief.
  • Risk-taking behavior- this could include acting without thought of consequences and acting out through unhealthy relationships.
  • Substance abuse- turning to alcohol or drugs to numb their feelings.
  • Over or under eating- using food as a tool to numb or distract.
  • Obsessing/Controlling- since they could not control their loss, they may seek to control what they can. 

There can be many factors, including low self-esteem, or a history of untreated anxiety and depression that can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. There may be a sense of emptiness or lack of safety that makes their loss feel intolerable and this inability to tolerate the emotions leads to those unhealthy behaviors. 

Healthier Tools

There is no “right” way to deal with loss. Part of dealing with grief is understanding that it affects different people in different ways. Young people dealing with grief need to understand that the feelings they’re experiencing are okay and that there is no such thing as normal when it comes to loss. It might take one person a few weeks to start to feel lighter, while others require much more time. It is important to give themselves some patience and grace as they move through their stages of grief. Acknowledging their pain and seeking out help can aid them to begin to deal with their loss. There may be good days and hard days, but it is all a part of processing their emotions. Grief counseling can also be an effective tool for working through their pain. An experienced therapist can help them work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to their grieving.

Solstice East Can Help

The Solstice mission is to support adolescents, and their families, in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journeys. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff.

The process of internal growth and change is facilitated by a succession of interventions aimed at helping our girls become young women of character. The process of developing and clarifying a positive value system, and learning to allow these values to drive their choices and behavior is a powerful process of growth. It is this process that drives internal growth, and once solidified, remains constant and growing long after graduation and into adulthood. For more information please call (828) 414-2980.

women and youth supporting each other

How to Build Up Other Girls Instead of Feeling Competitive

How to Build Up Other Girls Instead of Feeling Competitive 2560 1437 se_admin

Teenage girls have a reputation for being competitive. So much so that the terms “Queen Bee” and “mean girls” have worked their way into common vernacular. This sense of competition may stem from a variety of reasons such as issues with confidence, a feeling of scarcity around opportunities, or learned behaviors. And while this competition is often seen as a given for women, the truth is that there are ways that we can change our perspective and learn to build other girls up. 

Women Supporting Women

Pursue Your Passions: Being engaged in activities you are passionate about can help you feel more confident and connected. By exploring your interests, you begin to build a stronger self of self. And that strong self of self can help guide your moral compass when you encounter those negative competitive behaviors, whether in yourself or in others. 

Practice Empathy: Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is a crucial part of understanding how our behaviors can directly affect someone else. Negative competitive behaviors often present themselves as being malicious or underhanded. When those feelings arise, you may find yourself wishing for your own success, perhaps at the cost of someone else’s. It’s important to remember that there are opportunities for everyone and that when you act on those competitive feelings, it can have a real and negative impact on others. 

Use Social Media for Good: Social media is often thought of as a negative thing where young women are flooded with messages and imaging about how they could look/act/be better. And while that can be the case, there are ways to use social media for good. You can follow accounts on social media that you find inspirational where women are lifting each other up. You can also use your own social media for good. Leave positive comments on a friend’s post describing her recent success. “Like” a co-worker’s selfie where she was feeling confident. 

Work Together: If you find yourself struggling with competitive behaviors, try putting yourself in situations where you will have to work collaboratively with other women. Perhaps it’s a sports team or joining a local group of volunteers. Notice how that when you’re working together, one person’s success means that every person is succeeding. The more you practice lifting other women up, the more it will just become a part of your automatic response. 

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East students are highly intelligent and highly sensitive. Our teens are creative and capable, but vulnerable to the pressures of their surroundings. They often experience the world differently through misperceptions and are impacted by issues of anxiety, depression, identity, attachment, mood disorders, and learning disabilities. Solstice East is committed to treating each student through a combination of individual, family, equine, and adventure therapies as well as treating and diagnosing a range of issues including (but not limited to) trauma, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, self-harming behaviors, attachment, and identity issues. For more information please call (828) 471-0221.

what it's like to have high-functioning anxiety

High-Functioning Anxiety in Teens: Warning Signs

High-Functioning Anxiety in Teens: Warning Signs 2560 1700 se_admin

It’s normal for all teens to experience anxiety from time to time when they have substantial events approaching such as a big test, an important soccer game, or a first date. Feeling anxious is a normal reaction to big stressors, but for some teens, anxiety is not just present for big moments, but for all the moments in between as well. For teens who are struggling with high-functioning anxiety, it can negatively impact friendships and family relationships, participation in extracurricular activities, and schoolwork.

Impacts of high-functioning anxiety on teens

Teen anxiety is becoming increasingly common with 25% of 13-18-year-olds experiencing an anxiety disorder.  High functioning anxiety has evolved into a catchall term for people who live with anxiety but are able to function reasonably well in different areas of life. Teens with high functioning anxiety experience a myriad of impacts both mental and physical.

Teens with high-functioning anxiety get really caught up in their own heads and experience excessive fears and worries. Trying to mitigate these worries can lead them to feel restless, hyper-vigilant, and constantly nervous. Teens can also develop a sense of perfectionism to try and keep the anxiety at bay. Socially, anxiety can cause teens to either appear dependent or withdrawn depending on what their fears are.

High-functioning anxiety can also manifest in physical symptoms. Many anxious teens experience muscle tension, stomachaches, headaches, and fatigue. It’s also common for their bodies to flush, blot, sweat, and startle at any anxious trigger.

Warning signs your daughter may be experiencing high-functioning anxiety

With most teens experiencing some form of anxiety occasionally, how can you tell if your daughter is just processing typical teen stress or if they are living with high-functioning anxiety? The following are some warning signs you can look for:

1. Physical changes: Notice if your daughter is complaining of frequent pain that is not normal for her. This could be in the form of headaches, gastrointestinal problems, unexplained aches or pains, or even her saying she doesn’t feel well without any obvious cause.

2. Emotional changes: Be on the lookout for severe emotional alterations such as extreme irritability or unexplained outbursts. Also, notice if she has developed any new or extreme fears that she is constantly worrying about.

3. Social changes: If your daughter used to be a social butterfly, a warning sign of anxiety could be her avoiding social interactions, extracurricular activities, or spending increased time alone.

4. Sleep changes: If your daughter is experiencing significant anxiety, it can change her sleeping patterns, making it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. She can also experience an increase in nightmares and feel like she is still tired after a full night’s sleep.

5. Academic changes: Rather than seeing a decline in grades, anxiety can actually cause a significant jump in grades because your daughter is working so hard at being perfect. However, anxiety can also cause feelings of being overwhelmed by school and difficulty concentrating while studying and doing homework.

If working through constant anxiety becomes too much for your daughter and family to handle, programs like Solstice East can help.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls ages 14-17 that specializes in treating teens with anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and unhealthy behaviors. We support a therapeutic culture where acceptance, change, and growth is recognized and embraced. This approach allows our students to heal and gain the skills and tools necessary to lead a happy, healthy life.

For more information about how Solstice East can help please call 828-484-9946.

anxiety and PTSD in teen girls

Avoiding Anxiety in Teens

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With anxiety being one of the most common mental health issues found in the general population, avoiding anxiety in teens can be challenging. While medication, therapy, and the support of loved ones can help, anxiety in teens is often something that will follow them throughout life. As a result, worry and irrational fear are a constant part of their lives. A recent article by Bustle discusses 3 situations that should be avoided when dealing with anxiety in teens.

It’s extremely important that individuals suffering from anxiety in teens not avoid every situation that gives them anxiety—doing so can actually make anxiety in teens worse, and cause them to miss out on important opportunities. However, it’s important that teens not push themselves to a breaking point.

Anxiety in Teens: 3 Situations That Should Be Avoided

  1. Toxic Environments. Teens spend 40 hours a week at school, so it’s incredibly difficult when the environment is toxic. Bullying or social issues among peers can especially cause anxiety in teens. Many teens who suffer from this report having symptoms including sleep problems, trouble concentrating, and anxiety. If teens are experiencing a toxic environment, they should discuss with their teachers or advisors about switching seats in class or avoiding people that are causing them distress.
  2. Triggering Living Situations. When anxiety in teens is present, teens often have to face fears on a daily basis. Triggers like public speaking, driving, or meeting new people are things that individuals with anxiety need to push themselves to do, otherwise they let the disorder win. Living with anxiety in teens is often incredibly exhausting, because normal activities that are east for most teens require significantly more effort from those with anxiety. Ensuring that the home environment is a safe space is essential. Of course, no living situation is perfect, but eliminating potential anxiety triggers in the home can help reduce anxiety on a daily basis.
  3. Spending Too Much Time Alone. While there’s a lot of value in alone time, it’s important to be maintain social relationships. Anxiety in teens can cause individuals to feel the need to hide from the world. This is often due to an excess in negative thoughts. When people with anxiety are left alone with these negative thoughts, it ca be harder for them to control them and maintain a healthy life. When symptoms of anxiety are high, teens should consider spending more time with loved ones or peers, instead of hiding out.

If your teen is struggling with anxiety, there are programs that can help.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East handles social media addiction, please call 828-484-9946!

Say It Out Loud: Unexpected Anxiety Reduction Technique Reduces Anxiety in Teens

Say It Out Loud: Unexpected Anxiety Reduction Technique Reduces Anxiety in Teens 150 150 se_admin

Sometimes admitting something about yourself out loud instead of keeping it bottled up inside is one of the best first steps to overcoming a struggle. According to researchers, that happens to be the case for anxiety in teens and adults.

According to a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, putting a label on anxiety and saying out loud what an individual is truly feeling can greatly reduce their fear response.

The more words, the better

The study, lead by Katharina Kicanski of Stanford University,  found that the more words people use associated with fear and other reactions to anxiety, the greater the reduction to anxiety symptoms.

As the line from Harry Potter goes, “fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” By saying out loud how people are feeling, they are able to let those fears and anxieties go. This can make people feel instantly less anxious.

An unexpected result

Another interesting aspect of this study is the unexpected results. Participants in the study truly did not expect that speaking about their emotions out loud would have any effect on their overall anxiety.  But it did. How, you might ask? Skin conductance allowed for these results to be seen.

Researchers compared the results of vocalizing and labeling emotions to popular techniques used to help lessen the effects of anxiety in teens and adults. The techniques they used are known as distraction and reappraisal. 

In reappraisal, individuals are instructed to change their thoughts around anxiety. To think about it differently.

During the study, reappraisal was used on a group of people with anxiety towards spiders. Through reappraisal, the individuals were told to use words considered to be “neutral”. For example, one person said “Looking at the spider is not dangerous for me.”

Other individuals were told to speak about their emotions towards the spider. They formed a sentence that included a negative word about the spider and one or two negative words or phrases about their emotional response to the spider.

All participants were exposed to the spiders for varying periods of time and came back one week later for a follow up meeting.

The conclusions

Researchers found that those in the group which used labels to express their emotions towards the spiders had a reduced skin conductance response compared to the groups who experienced distraction and reappraisal. By using words related to their anxiety and fear response, there were greater reductions in overall anxiety in teens and adults studied.

By having a lower skin conductance, those who spoke about their fears and anxieties out loud and labelled them were less fearful of spiders overall.

There have been a variety of studies associated with verbalizing fear and anxiety in teens and adults. Many of these studies have concluded that overall distress is reduced relative to conditions in which anxiety in teens and adults were never expressed verbally or through writing.

So what does this tell us? If you’re feeling anxious, talk about it out loud! It, apparently, can lessen the overall effects.

Solstice East can help your anxious teen

If you have a daughter struggling with anxiety or another emotional or behavioral issue, Solstice East might be able to help. Solstice East is a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-17.

For more information about Solstice East, please call (855) 672-7058 today!


Teen Anxiety: More Common in Young Women

Teen Anxiety: More Common in Young Women 150 150 se_admin

Research Suggests That Women Are More Likely to Experience Teen Anxiety

Teen anxiety disorders can make life extremely difficult for individuals. Typical symptoms of teen anxiety disorder include increased worrying, tension, tiredness, and fear. These symptoms in teens often prevent them from living normal lives and keeping up with their everyday routines. It can be detrimental to their success in school and on their relationships with their peers. Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorder present within the general population. The CDC estimates that the lifetime prevalence of teen anxiety and other anxiety disorders is more than 15 percent. A recent article by Medical News Today, states that a review of previous research has found that teen anxiety is more common in young women.

The Research

Researchers led by the University of Cambridge, examined the findings of 48 reviews of anxiety studies. The reviews included content on the development of teen anxiety, anxiety in relation to addiction, and anxiety related to other health conditions like cancer and heart disease. On top of this, the reviews also looked at anxiety in different settings, including clinical, community, and different places around the globe.


According to the reviews, the group of people who were most affected by teen anxiety and other anxiety disorders were young women and people with other health conditions. Around 4 in every 100 people overall are reported to experience a form of anxiety. The United States has one of the highest rates of anxiety in the world. While anxiety disorders are a growing area of interest for research, there are limitations on what existing research is present. Select groups are underrepresented in reviews that the researchers looked at. Even with a reasonably large number of studies of anxiety disorder, data about marginalized groups is hard to find. These are the people who are likely to be at a greater risk than the general population.

By identifying these gaps, future research can be directed towards marginalized groups and include greater understanding of how findings can help reduce individual and population burdens brought on by teen anxiety or other anxiety disorders. It is important to understand how common teen anxiety and other anxiety disorders are and which groups of people are at a greater risk.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East handles social media addiction, please call 828-484-9946!

Social Anxiety Treated With Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Social Anxiety Treated With Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy 150 150 se_admin

In an article published by Forbes, a psychotherapist, Karen J. Helfrich, was interviewed about the ways mindfulness based cognitive therapy can benefit those grappling with social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Recently, mindfulness training has gained popularity in treating various mental health issues, including stress, depression, and more.

Social anxiety disorder defined

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense fear of being judged by others or embarrassed. It generally pops up in early adolescence, averaging at about 13 years old. When thrown into certain situations, social anxiety disorder has the power to wrap a teen in a cloak of terror, making it nearly impossible to function normally. For your teen girl, her social anxiety trigger could be anything from presenting in class to ordering at a restaurant.

What is mindfulness based cognitive therapy?

Practicing mindfulness based cognitive therapy has deep roots in the ancient practice of meditation. Though most often taught through meditative training, yoga is also utilized as a way of practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy allows a teen to become aware of their inner feelings, physical feelings, and outside surroundings. It gives them the ability to effectively work through issues instead of being bombarded and overwhelmed by them.

“Mindfulness is simply paying attention to one’s present-moment experience.” –Karen J. Helfrich

Taking the time to calm their mind and concentrate on their core feelings and environment allows a teen to develop the skills needed to live in the present and deal with current issues efficiently instead of dwelling on things that cannot be controlled.

How mindfulness training can help with social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder gives a teen a response of extreme fear or “fight-or-flight” when in certain social settings. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy allows a teen to acknowledge and further understand their triggers, which in turn grants them the opportunity to calm themselves in those situations. Instead of being helpless against the uncontrollable fear, this teen can observe the fear infringing, compose themselves, and deal with it accordingly. It doesn’t work immediately, but many studies have confirmed mindfulness training’s power to improve a person’s control over their emotions.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with anxiety, trauma, depression, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about Solstice East, please call 828-484-9946!